Have you ever been out mowing the grass, playing in the yard, or just standing looking over your kingdom, and suddenly felt an itch around your ankle?  I cannot count the times I looked down to see I have stepped on an ant pile and my once white sneakers are now covered in a swarms of black or red ants!



Our New Nasty Neighbors

The newest addition to this family of invasive pest is the Twany crazy ant, whose scientific name is Nylanderia fulva.  This pest, first discovered in Texas in 2002, has now began to spread largely throughout the nation.

The newest of places it was located was Albany, GA.

So what’s so bad about these little suckers?  Well, to start instead of stingers the worker ants possess and acidopore, or excrete chemical that can cause rashes, itchiness, and an un-fun weekend.  They also enjoy biting anything that moves, thus even your pets will not want to go out to enjoy the yard on the most beautiful day.

How to Spot a Tawny

Appearance of many (millions) of uniformly-sized 1/8 inch long, reddish-brown ants in the landscape; foraging occurs indoors from outdoor nests.It’s a good idea to know what you are looking to in order to deal with crazy ants as soon as possible. Lucky the University of Texas has outlined the key characteristics to look for.  In their summery of the Tawny Crazy Ant they said to beware of:

  • Under a microscope you will find 12-segmented antennae, a petiole (1 node), an acidopore (circle of hairs at the tip of the gaster (abdomen)), and the ant will be covered with many hairs (macrosetae).
  • Winged males (see image below) are needed for identification to species (see Gotzek et al. 2012)
  • Ants that form loose foraging trails as well as forage randomly (non-trailing) and crawl rapidly and erratically (hence the description “crazy” ant).
  • Ant colonies (where queens with brood including whitish larvae and pupae, See image on right) occur under landscape objects like rocks, timbers, piles of debris, etc. These ants do not build centralized nests, beds, or mounds, and do not emerge to the surface from nests through central openings.

I Found Them!

Now what should you do if you see these crazy bitters in your back yard? Many of the typical controls don’t work for these guys, however, there are still things you can do.

For cultural control, remove any fallen limbs, rocks, leaf litter, or anything that could provide a humid or wet condition to help prevent breeding.   To avoid the spread, make sure to take time, before moving anything, to first properly checking to make sure no tawny ants are catching a ride.

Finally, using chemicals to stop the growth and infestation of the Tawny Crazy Ant.  The tricky thing about the Tawny Ant is there is no market chemical that can kill them yet!  But don’t fret, just call a local professional and they should be able to take care of the infection in no time!


Photo Credit: Yug and her via Photopin